Here I’ll talk about Sniper, my view on him and how I generally like to play him, this isn’t a perfect view in any respect but it works for me. I refer to and use aspects of Torte de Lini’s builds as they work very well and have helped me to hone my skills for sure, if you don’t read any further than this but still want advice, just follow the premade builds and don’t feed! I wont go over the basics of exactly what each skill does, this is under the assumption you’ve played Sniper and just want to know more. If you haven’t, or need to refresh yourself check out the page here.
Sniper is, as described by Valve in their game, a Carry and a Nuker. The nuker part of sniper is somewhat misleading. He only has one high damage skill, which is his ult that does 650 magical damage to a single target. Which, you may be thinking, sounds like a good spell to nuke with.
The problem is, it has a 2 second ‘build up’ before you can fire, during which you’re stood stationary, unable to move or do anything else. This makes it feel like less of a nuke, extremely useful for getting the final damage on a fleeing enemy, but less useful in the middle of a fight where, sometimes, you can do more damage just by right clicking. So try to avoid using the skill to initiate or in the middle of a team fight unless it is to secure a kill from an enemy fleeing the field.
The Carry side, is entirely true. Sniper, to me, is a glass cannon. Sniper can pull off impressive amounts of damage and tear down the strongest heroes, but once he’s caught he’ll struggle to survive. The key to Sniper is mobility and range.
Sniper is a hero that many favour playing the middle lane, which is definitely a viable option. Torte de Lini’s guide will give you an easy time playing middle, favouring maxing the Shrapnel skill before taking Headshot and then lastly, Take Aim.
I prefer to take Sniper into lane, begin with Headshot for that initial mini-stun for random bursts of damage, then Take Aim to give yourself more room to fire in from afar, one level in Shrapnel for versatility, before then swapping between Take Aim, Headshot and Shrapnel. Take Aim is always my priority, giving myself that extra room to maneuvre and avoid approaching enemies. Playing within a lane, this allows me to comfortably harass enemy heroes and pick off last hits and denies, without worrying overmuch about getting caught up in an attack, as I have plenty of warning if the two heroes I’m facing off against start moving towards me. In the last set of games I’ve played, this has allowed for a comfortable lane-win whereby the enemy heroes haven’t been able to farm, and if the team is playing well has allowed the mid-lane to come in for a gank, destroying the two heroes who I’ve kept on low health.
The heroes that this method struggles against are the likes of Phantom Assassin, who can hit a long distance slow with Stifling Dagger and then close the gap with his Phantom Strike, giving his team mate time to bear down upon you. There isn’t much you can do to counter this, except to play well with your support and keep PA on low health so that she’s not confident enough to give it a go. When she’s on full health and pushing heavily, be cautious and beware a gank. Like I said, Sniper is a glass cannon, and you will feed heavily if you’re not careful.
Hopefully, by the time you’re hitting level 6 you’ll have been doing well in the lane, at this point I would have 1 point in Shrapnel, 2 points in Headshot, 2 points in Take Aim and 1 point in Assassinate. I still follow the build that Torte de Lini suggests, Ring of Aquila and Boots of Speed before moving onto Mask of Madness and Phase Boots, straight after this I go for Dragon Lance. From there it depends on who I’m facing as to what I pick next. Maelstrom is a great pick for Sniper, and I pick it up along with it’s follow-up Mjollnir in every game. If you’re facing a powerful Phantom Assassin who is farming well and causing trouble, it could be worthwhile picking up Monkey King Bar. Sniper is great at tearing down enemy carries from afar, but when that carry can evade 50% of your attacks, you wont be doing enough damage. Your output is halved. Monkey King Bar grants you truestrike, and takes away Phantom Assassin’s key skill and your worst enemy. There are few heroes out there that will get in the way of a well-played Sniper, and PA is one of them.
If you’re not up against a PA, or they’re not causing you too much trouble at the time, your next decision is Shadow Blade. Sniper has no escape mechanism to speak of, beyond throwing down Shrapnel as a slow and trying to hot-foot it away. Generally, the extra range you’ve got means in a team fight you’re far enough away from the fight that escape wont be your first thought. However, if you’re in a game where the opposition is flowing through the map picking you off consistantly then Shadow Blade is going to be a key purchase. It’s the choice between sinking money into an item that doesn’t do much for your stats, or dying so often that you can’t afford the right items. If you’re farming comfortably and your team has the situation handled, skip Shadow Blade, if you’re facing trouble then make it a priority.
If you’re happy to skip both MKB and Shadow Blade, move onto Maelstrom and then into Daedalus. Torte de Lini suggests picking up Hurricane Pike, which is a good addition but again, I don’t think the stats in the endgame are worth it if you’re not in dire need of another escape mechanism. Dragon Lance is something I sell off once I hit level 25 and can take the +100 attack range talent, meaning I can still fight from a distance but pick up an item that works better for the team, such as Desolator or Eye of Skadi.
In terms of farm, once you have Mjollnir, you can go to the dire small jungle, and farm all 3 camps including the ancients at once, allowing the lightning to jump between the creeps and very quickly and consistently gain gold with minimal danger (Unless you’re radiant, then you’re not in as much luck). If you’re on Radiant, the small jungle there is still likely to be your best shot. Jungling in both of these locations requires good warding, if your support isn’t warding that spot, think about picking it up yourself as the 60 gold spent will give you ample time to get away and allow you to farm comfortably for a good while. Depending on how fast you can clear the jungle, the lane is generally a more efficient area to farm xp and gold (as long as you get those last hits!) but it’s not always viable. As soon as you pop up on a lane alone the enemy will move to intercept and so you’ll need to plug gold into an escape, equally you will push the lane to the tower where it is even more dangerous to fight and so after a couple of creep waves you’re back into the jungle.
As you move into the endgame, you’ve hit your 20s, your team is pushing the Tier 2 and 3 towers and you’re looking to finish before you are finished, the extra range, damage and Shrapnel charges are going to come in handy. If you’ve got Monkey King Bar at this point, when you’re pushing the Tier 3 towers you are going to be able to shoot the high ground without missing, meaning you can sit back out of range of the towers and pick at enemies when there is vision. The True Strike on Monkey King Bar unfortunately doesn’t work on buildings and you will have a 25% miss chance, but even then, at this point, you should be doing upwards of 300 damage. If you still have your Mask of Madness and are comfortable risking the extra damage in-take, pop it and watch the tower burn from a distance. There is few things more satisfying than having your team sit in the low ground defending you while you destroy their T3 tower and their only option is to forfeit their high-ground advantage or allow the tower to fall.
Most likely thing to happen, is one hero will charge out to stop you and your team will annihilate him, then the rest of their team will follow giving you a 5v4 advantage. Just be ready to retreat very quickly, the games you’ll play early are unlikely to have the most communicative players and this works for the enemy aswell as your own team, but sometimes it does happen. They could be communicating very well and pop out from the high ground all at once and that will cause you trouble, your team is likely to panic, target different players and muddle it up. Keep your head clear, back away and keep your distance. If the mute from Mask of Madness has worn off, pop a Shrapnel or two down while you back away, then turn back into the fight. Target the hero who’s not popped their ult, or the one most likely to do the most damage. If it looks like your team is going to lose the fight, either get away, or if you think its safe, take out the hero most likely to chase and catch you. This is going to be Phantom Assassin, or another hero with Blink Dagger and stuns or slows. What you don’t want to do is stick around just to grab a kill to find yourself killed anyways.
As for talents I go the following route:
- Level 10 – +15 Attack Speed
- Level 15 – +200 Health
- Level 20 – +8 Armour
- Level 25 – +100 Attack Range
The attack speed allows you to tear down everything, and you’ll find the mana regen unimportant to you, the extra health and armour will keep you alive longer as you move through the midgame before the final talent allows you to get rid of your Dragon Lance and pick up an item that allows you to put more damage into the game. If you’re finding that Shrapnel is being used often and you’re always out, opt to swap the +8 armour for the -25% cooldown reduction. I try to avoid dropping the +200 health as it can make the difference between getting away clean or having a nuker drop one skill on you and wiping you out.
So that’s it from me for Sniper. Do you have any thoughts? Where do you most like to play Sniper? Have you got an item that’s a little unusual to buy on him but you think works really well? Let me know!
I wanted to create a build on the DotA website and link to it, but unfortunately they’ve temporarily taken the function down! I’ll work on it and add it to this when I can.